In response to the violence and rioting that erupted Monday night in Ferguson, Mo., following a grand jury’s decision not to indict a white police officer in the killing of an unarmed black man, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) issued a statement Tuesday, calling for an end to the unrest and reaffirming support for a plan to equip law enforcement officials with body-worn cameras.
In September, Schiff and 29 members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder, asking the Department of Justice to establish a federal grant to help local law enforcement agencies nationwide purchase the cameras, which he said would increase transparency, ease tensions between police and the community and create a record of events.
“I think body cameras can be extraordinarly valuable in not only documenting crime, but also in either proving or disproving claims of police misconduct,” Schiff said in an interview with the News-Press in September.
St. Louis County Prosecuting Atty. Robbert McCullouch announced Monday that the jury – made up of nine whites and three blacks – had found no cause to file criminal charges against police Ofc. Darren Wilson who shot and killed 18-year-old Michael Brown on Aug. 9, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Angry protesters took to the streets following the decision and were met by police in riot gear. At least a dozen buildings were burned and 61 people were arrested in the rioting and looting that followed, St. Louis Police Chief Jon Belmar said Monday night.
In his statement, Schiff said the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision “exposed anew the deep mistrust between many Americans, particularly those of color, and law enforcement.”
In addition to equipping law enforcement officials with body cameras, Schiff said diversifying police forces could ease tensions in communities.
“That will not be an easy task, but a good start would be committing to further diversify our police forces so they are more representative of the communities they police,” Schiff said.